Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Happy Endings Aren't Just For Massage Parlors

sidebra with sorting hats: ***Spoiler Alert*** This post contains spoilers on both the Twilight saga and the Harry Potter series. If you haven't read them, then please crawl out from under your rock and go do so. Trust us on this.

I know a lot of people who loved reading the Twilight series, but are staunchly "Team Trilogy" - meaning they would rather have the series end with Eclipse. And this isn't solely due to the freakshow of a birthscene in Breaking Dawn. Although that plays into it (seriously, how could it not?), most of the Team Trilogy members hated the whole Disney-esque happy ending that came later. The anticlimactic Volturri scene and the "gooey" finale.

Personally, I love a happy ending. I liked Breaking Dawn, although it's not my favorite of the series, and I still start happy sighing at then end, even if it is a bit much. So, this got me thinking about writing and reading and endings. I saw a tweet from a YA author (and I cannot remember who!) asking about what kind of endings people like - Happy Endings? Ambiguous endings? Tragic but redeeming endings?

I have mixed feelings on Breaking Dawn and it's brand of "HEA" or "Happily Ever After" for a few reasons. On one hand, I didn't want anyone to die. Well, okay, there were some parts in the middle where I thought Jake could bite it and I'd be fine with it, but overall my inner 10 year old wanted it all to tied up nice and neat. On the other hand, while the premise of Twilight was unbelievable (vampires and werewolves and psychics, oh my!) the relationships within the series are what kept us hooked. Real life relationships often don't have neat happy endings like that. So my rational mind fought against it.

Agreed. Honestly, even if the bad guys had died, the ending of Breaking Dawn would have been more substantial, or more believable. I think the fact that nothing was sacrificed made it all the more difficult to swallow. I have to be honest though - after my first reading of Breaking Dawn, I was completely content with the way things ended. It wasn't until the second (and third, and fourth, and...) time reading it that these things started to occur to me.

I think there are "levels" of HEAs. For Stephenie Meyer, obviously her HEA included every character. As a reader, my HEA criteria revolved around Bella and Edward. Personally, as we saw Bella's love for Renesmee, even her death (to protect her daughter and her daughter's future) could be construed as a "happy" ending, as long as her needs (Renesmee's survival) were met. I don't know, maybe I've grown cynical in my old age, but my idea of a happy ending and Stephenie's idea of a happy ending are vastly different.

For example, **spoiler alert here people** Harry Potter had a "happy" ending in my mind. Even though people died.

I could not agree more! And, when Dumbledore died, I ugly cried. Serious sobbing. But, his death only made the story that much stronger. And the deaths in Book 7 were almost unbearable, but again, it made the ending all the more powerful. I still get chills (I have them right now) just thinking about the ending of the Harry Potter series.

Oh, me too! I think this is the point, though. Each author was true to the story she wanted to tell. I'm not debating strength of writing or anything like that. I'm just pointing out how each had different criteria.

I think that Meyer had a love story and at the end of the day she wanted her characters happy. I can see how, for her, that happiness needed to come without any hint of sorrow. Sure, it's not realistic, but it's what we'd all want out of life. Rowling, however, had a story of survival and friendship. I feel like her message was one of good conquering evil and as long as evil was vanquished then she accomplished her goal.

Well said Meadow. And perhaps the reason millions of people love the Twilight saga is because it's, as you say, what we'd all want out of life.

Especially the becoming a vampire thing. Because we all want to be sparkly vampires now! *wink*

So tell us your favorite happy endings, and we'll discuss them along with ours next week!


  1. Comparing my two favorite books series to do? Yes please! :)

    While Breaking Dawn was not my favorite book by far, I was really happy about the happy ending part. And while I DO wish that something... ANYTHING... would have happened during the 'battle' I didn't really want anyone to die. At least not of the Cullen's or wolves. I guess some of the straggler vamps that came to help or watch or whatever could have gone but...
    To me, the Twilight series is all about the love. And that was the most important thing to end with, in my opinion. So I liked it. :)

    Harry Potter was devestating to read. Great book, but seriously... poor Harry. I can still get all worked up and teary eyed when thinking about certain parts of it. Like Rain, when Dumbledore died I cried. Hard. My husband thought there was something wrong with me, but I couldn't tell him why I was crying because he was going to read it as soon as I was done! And then in HP7, I couldn't believe all the people (and animals!) that she whacked in there! I mean, keep kicking the poor kid while he was down! I remember being so upset about 3/4 of the way through, that I cheated and read the last page of the book to see if it was going to turn out ok... and I remember crying again right then once I realized the four of them (including Ginny) made it!

    I'm all for happy endings. I guess I'm a sucker. The Golden Compass trilogy didn't end happy... and that bummed me out!

  2. Generally I like a happy ending (he he he), but what that looks like is indeed different depending on the book. I really liked Breaking Dawn-even the creepy birthing scene-it was good to finally see some gore in a Vampire series. And, I liked the happy ending (hehehe) because Twilight for me was entirely a fairy tale-so everything wrapping up nice with a bow made total logical sense to me (But, I did hate that NOTHING happened with the Volturi. That was lame).
    For something like Harry Potter, that was more than a fairy tale for me-there was more happening and more depth as a whole. So, even with tear-inducing tragedy, it still ended happily. And, while the ending of the Golden Compass Trilogy wasn't happy-it was right-so that was satisfactory.

    So, to sum up-I like a happy ending (he he he)and what it looks like is different for every story...

  3. I loved the happy ending in Breaking Dawn. In fact, on release night at midnight I got my copy and immediately flipped to the last page to MAKE SURE it ended happily. If she wasn't with Edward, well.pppfttt I wasn't sure I wanted to even read it :p

    Skipping the HP cause I am not done with it ....I think that ultimately I like happy endings but as long as they are not TOO sappy.

  4. 90% of Breaking Dawn drove me insane, so I won't comment on the ending. You can figure out how I felt about it (and all of it, for crying out loud!).

    But I did *love* the Harry Potter ending. I thought it wrapped up the story effectively, and while it was happy for most, it wasn't happy for all. And that's what I like. I like complicated endings more than HEA ones. I want things to stay true to the characters and the story and the world that's been built.

    And it was Cassie Clare who posed that question on Twitter. (And I think she cheated with her ending.)

  5. Oops! A favorite happy ending of mine, aside from HP, is the end of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I thought it was a well-deserved happy ending. That ending was desperately fought for, much deserved by those who made it there, and certainly bittersweet.

    And can I say that I'm hoping for a mostly happy ending for the Hunger Games trilogy? No big neat bow on the story like other stories we've discussed, but I would like for Katniss and Peeta to find happiness by the end. Gale? Meh.

  6. @Coffeequeen - It is so funny that you metion HG and Gale & Peeta - I was just thinking today of starting a post about that! Friends always ask me Gale or Peeta?

  7. I have SO much to say about this!

    People SHOULD have died in Breaking Dawn and not just the bad guys. In Harry Potter good guys AND bad guys died, as in life. Stephenie Meyer jumped the shark but wrapping the series up in a tight little bow. NOTHING was sacrificed. Bella ultimately did not have to give up anything. She got to have Edward's baby. She got to be a vampire (who can control her urges to feed? Hello newborn!), she got to see her father still, she remained BFFs with Jake, blah blah blah... and then just as a battle was brewing in comes Pixie with her good fairy dust with the "save the day" moment, Nahuel.

    But I say this with love ... as obviously I love the Twilight series but Harry Potter gave us a real life story within a fantasy world. Harry SUFFERED great losses, as did we the readers. It was tangible. Sobbing? I could not breathe when Dumbledore died... or when Molly Weasley fought Bellatrix ... the grieving mother... God that scene gives me chills. I can't wait to see it played out on screen. There are so many big and small moments in Harry Potter that force you to feel something within yourself... loss, pain, anguish and even joy, hope and happiness. The balance of life.

    Twilight has very unrealistic expectations for life and it must not set a standard because it is one that will inevitably fail. Life is not about happy endings but happy moments. I know that sounds cynical but I think it's true.

    And no one loves Twilight more than me but I will say that I am not looking at it for anything other than easy entertainment because there was nothing HARD about it. Other than perhaps that hot chunk of cold marble ass, Jasper Hale... Damn it girls, you know how hard he is... I mean, his body... because he's a vampire and like a slab of marble. I swear I didn't mean his... Oh hell, yes I did.

    And there... my friends... is MY happy ending. *wink*

  8. *claps hands* I'm finally at my PC so I can add something. Okay, I'm a Mundie Mom so I did love City of Glass' ending. I think Cassie Clare hit the ending note perfectly. But, only beacuse it was a snapshot in time of Jace and Clary. She promises in City of Fallen Angels, things will not go well for them and I am so looking forward to that. I like complications.

    I can't comment on Breaking Dawn except to say it was an ambitious book. Perhaps it should've been made into two books. I missed Edward in it. He's what always drew me into the plot. So on the basis of that criteria alone, it wasn't her best work.

    But as to your question, what do I consider a good ending? Hmmm. I think THE perfect ENDING, in something I've recently read, is Lisa McMann's Dream Catcher Trilogy. The final installment, GONE, hit every note perfectly. And I know it will be out soon, so the rest of you can argue with me then. But, I loved it's realism.

    Harry Potter, too, had a satisfying ending. Things weren't perfect and yes, characters died. I felt in that series, in particular, deaths (especially Dumbledore's) needed to occur. But the ending was for me, satisfying.

    Otherwise, as some of you know, I like an ending that's a little bittersweet. I loved the ending of (and no, it's only one volume and not a trilogy) Pam Bachorz' CANDOR. I know. I'm perverse in that way. But again, she stayed true to her characters and that's always important to me as a reader.

  9. I have to agree with spank. People should have died in breaking dawn. The whole book pissed me off. In the end bella didnt sacrifice anything yet she got everything she could have possibly wanted. In HP,howwever, you see all the sacrifices that harry has to make. From risking his life to save not only his life but his friends lives as well, to having to find out that people near and dear to him are dying. HP was Fantasy yet mixed with real life. And as for the deaths of the beloved characters(yes ladies i too cried when dumbledore died) i felt that it all fit right into the plot. It would not have been the wonderful story that it was without the plot turns and deaths. SO to answer your question rain yes i do like happy ending but there are many out there so i have to say i like the happy endings that fit well into the story. Or as in harry potter a bittersweet ending.

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  11. I have to say that i liked the ending in BD because the books took you away from reality into a fairy tale love story. I also loved HP, it wasn't a "love story" in the general sense. It was a fantasy and friendship story. I have to say I cried the hardest at the first death in Deathly Hallows, it affected more than Dumbledore (which i was a blubbering mess) but because of my animals it hit home.
    I have to agree with @coffeequeen in that one of the best ever endings was the Lord of the Rings trilogy, i can't even count how many times i have read those books since I was a kid
    I have only read the Mortal Instruments once so far but was a little disappointed with the ending

  12. I cried every time a character, including the owl, died in HP. But it made the happy ending that much sweeter. It's almost like it was *owed* to him because of all that he lost. I'm not saying that you don't deserve to be happy unless you go through some great trauma. But B & E seemed to have it so easy. Don't get me wrong - I was gushing just like the next fangirl when they lived HEA, but it would have been so much more believable (and I hate to even think this) if they had lost a Cullen. Or at least a wolf. Yeah, there were killer vamps, the big, bad Volturi, and the angst of Edward leaving and him thinking Bella was dead, but where was the ultimate sacrifice? Bella didn't even have to never see her father again once she became a vamp. It's like SM copped out at every turn. Then again, @MeadowC has dubbed me Queen of Angst, so maybe I'm in the minority. ;)

  13. This made me want to go back and reread the ending of HP. It's been way too long. I do remember my head almost exploding a few time.
    As for endings in general, I tend to prefer the not-always-happy-but-always-redemptive sort. I'm all about someone learning something or becoming a better person or attaining some form of enlightenment. This is one of the many things I hated about BF (Breaking Fail). No one learned one goddamned thing.

  14. Personally, I could have delt fine with Jake being torn to shreds, that's all! My HEA so far I met my husband when I was 14, we started dating, 6 months later he moved 5 hours away. We saw eachother once a month, and had nightly hour long conversations. Summer of grade eleven he moved in with his aunt to be closer to me, he drove 1 hour to complete highschool with me. we graduated together, got engaged, got married at 20, had our daughter at 21, our son at 23. Now I am 26, and although sometimes I want to smack him uo side the head, I love my HEA. LOL god i love telling that as my HEA, sorry. I do agree though it would have been nice to see some really loss, and maybe no hell, not maybe, but shit it should have been rated R. The whole imprint thing gives me the heeby geeby's still dont like it.

  15. I'm a dedidacated HEA fan. There's a few books/series that I've all but thrown across the room when I got to the end. The Gemma Doyle trilogy being one of them. My husband just starts to laugh when he hears "are you kidding me" shouted from the other room. For me reading is my escape. There's can be so much pain in real life that I hate it when I'm left feeling sad or unresolved in my fantasy worlds.

    I read in one of SM's I interviews that she had been planning on making it into a 6 book series but stopped at 4. Do you think that may have been part of why there was no fight? And hey there was death Irina died, and that was sad, for all of about 2 seconds ;)

  16. I saw this tshirt today and thought of this post...meh's at least a PG-13 shirt...


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